Sharks in Delaware

The waters of Delaware have over 60 species of sharks swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, and Inland Bays, mostly during summer. However, only five of them are abundantly found, which include the smooth dogfish, spiny dogfish, sand tiger shark, sandbar shark, and the shortfin mako shark.

The great white dreaded for its aggression isn’t a common visitor here, sighted rarely. In 2021 it was spotted twice, in May and June, by the OCEARCH, a shark tracking app. The one tracked in May, Martha was a juvenile great white with a height and weight of 7 feet and 200 pounds, respectively. In June, a bigger shark, Freya, was spotted along Delaware Bay, weighing as much as 900 pounds with a height of 11 feet. She didn’t stay in the Delaware waters for long and headed towards the southeastern part of Cape May, New Jersey, the following day.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Delaware

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Spiny Dogfish 2.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive (due to their small size)
Smooth Dogfish 4-5 feet Not aggressive (due to their blunt teeth)
Sand Tiger Shark 7-10 feet Not aggressive (due to their small mouths)
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but potentially dangerous)
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Thresher Shark 10-18 feet Not aggressive
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive

FAQs

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Delaware has had just four shark attacks since 1940 with 0 fatalities. The last incident occurred in 2020 in Herring Point, Cape Henlopen State Park’s most popular fishing, surfing, and swimming destination. The victim was a 12-year-old boy, and the species responsible for the bite was most likely the sandbar shark. Another significant attack occurred in 2014 on the Rehoboth beach. A 16-year-old was bitten by a shark in his left arm while swimming. Fortunately, the bite wasn’t fatal though the boy required a couple of stitches.

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In 2020 a group of fishermen caught a sand tiger shark along the Bethany beach coast. They later released the shark into the waters.

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